Pakistan at a crossroads
By: Salahuddin Haider
Despite the passage of over six decades since its emergence on the world map, Pakistan still finds itself at a crossroads. We still remain undecided over the basic principles. The mess Pakistan finds itself in today is mainly due to the fact that be it politicians or military rulers; they all have treated this country as a lab rat. Every ruler has tried his hands on molding the country’s political system to suit his needs and to promote his interests, which has resulted in a political mess we are witnessing today.
Former Presidents Ayub Khan and Ziaul Haq opted for a presidential system. Subsequently, inept and corrupt politicians switched to parliamentary form of government. The net result is: Weak institutions, widespread corruption and continuous political unrest.
Once again the idea of presidential form of government has been coined. The reason cited for this probable U-turn is that a premier or leader of the House is always under the threat of a no-confidence move by the parliamentarians due to which he acts on the whims and wishes of many corrupt people to stay in power.
These “revolutionary” ideas are talk of the town since the arrival of scholar-cum-politician Tahirul Qadri. He is calling for a “revolution and corruption-free society” and is backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan who is also planning a long march on Aug. 14.
As usual, it is said that “hidden forces” — loathed to the Sharif-led government — have made Qadri to return to Pakistan allegedly to derail the government. Despite this situation, the government is committing one mistake after the other. Sharif and his ministers appear jittery and do not seem prepared to adopt any damage-control strategy.
After a brief lull, Qadri is back in action and calling for a revolution within day. He wants to see all those in powers behind the bars. He is obviously banking on public resentment against the current government, which appears more focused on mega projects than addressing the basic issues facing the masses.
Qadri has formed a nine-member committee comprising men of repute. Kunwar Dilshad, a former election commission secretary, is part of the team and has been tasked with proposing poll reforms.
Qadri’s aides reveal that they have been working on a presidential system instead of the parliamentary form of government. They are trying to propose the American system where the president and the parliamentarians are elected separately through one-man-one-vote system. However, what will be the response of political parties is yet to be seen.
In a bid to implement this agenda, Qadri is planning countrywide sit-ins through which he feels the army might force Sharif to step down. In the wake of such a development, an interim government might take the charge for two to three years to “clean the mess.” As per the plan, after two to three years fresh elections will be held after necessary amendments to the Constitution, which will be presidential in character. Will Qadri be able to muster enough support to implement his plans remains to be seen? It is difficult but cannot be ruled out.